Forums

|
Want to post a reply to this topic?
Login or register for an acount to join our online community today!

Slow LD Passenger Trains

  • Along these lines, I was wondering if sleeper travel on Amtrak is correctly priced.  I checked a 1962 NYC timetable for a roomette CHI-NY on the 20th Century Limited.  The fare is $84, not including meals in the dining car.  In today's dollars, according to the BLS calculator, that is $637.24$149 or   However, if I were to book a roomette on the Lake Shore Limited, the fare is only $564, including food.  If in 1962, one spent $10.00 in the dining car, that would equal $75.86 today.  So the current service is 1. Not as fast (20.5 hrs today vs 16 hrs then) or comfortable as 50 years ago, and 2. it is underpriced by $149, or 26%.  Other LD routes are probably comparable.

  • schlimm

    Along these lines, I was wondering if sleeper travel on Amtrak is correctly priced.  I checked a 1962 NYC timetable for a roomette CHI-NY on the 20th Century Limited.  The fare is $84, not including meals in the dining car.  In today's dollars, according to the BLS calculator, that is $637.24$149 or   However, if I were to book a roomette on the Lake Shore Limited, the fare is only $564, including food.  If in 1962, one spent $10.00 in the dining car, that would equal $75.86 today.  So the current service is 1. Not as fast (20.5 hrs today vs 16 hrs then) or comfortable as 50 years ago, and 2. it is underpriced by $149, or 26%.  Other LD routes are probably comparable. 

    An interesting point!  Here are two factors that may be impacting the pricing.

    The most popular sleeping car in 1962 was the 10 and 6, which had 10 roomettes and 6 double bedrooms.  The Viewliner has 12 roomettes, two double bedrooms, and an accessible bedroom.  A comfortable load for the 10 and 6 car would be 22 passengers, i.e. one in each roomette and two in each bedroom, although more people could be squeezed into the bedroom if necessary.  A comfortable load on the Viewliner is 30 people, i.e. 2 passengers in each roomette, 4 passengers in the bedrooms, although more can be accommodated, and 2 passengers in the special bedroom.  Accordingly, the fixed and variable costs can be spread over more units.

    The other impact on pricing would be who is buying the space.  In 1962 the 20th Century Limited, along with the Broadway Limited (both were all sleepers) still had a respectable brief case trade between Chicago and New York, although it was diminishing rapidly because of the introduction of the jet airplane. Most of the brief case trade was traveling on an expense account, I imagine, so they could wear a higher price. Based on my experience, most of today's first class passengers on the long distance trains are vacationers (domestic and foreign) who probably are paying the fares out of their own pockets.  According, it appears that the pricing conforms to the notion of what the market will bear.

  • 1. Why only one person in the 10-6 roomette but two in the Viewliner roomette?   Are the latter especially larger?

    2. Amtrak having to provide LD trains with sleepers, etc. as a necessity is like saying we should provide transatlantic liners as were running still 50 years ago.  Jetliners made both obsolete as a mayor transportation conveyance by the end of the 1960's.

  • There are transatlantic liners.  Cunard still operates transatlantic sailings.  New York to Southampton, just like the old days, in seven days.  No tooling around at a few knots and laying off some port so you can get fleeced by locals for little wooden trinkets.  Real honest to goodness oceanic transportation.

    Not cheap though.  Costs about $2800 round trip in the most basic cabin.  

    Don't need to have government backed oceanliners.  Someone else already has it covered.

  • schlimm

    1. Why only one person in the 10-6 roomette but two in the Viewliner roomette?   Are the latter especially larger?

    2. Amtrak having to provide LD trains with sleepers, etc. as a necessity is like saying we should provide transatlantic liners as were running still 50 years ago.  Jetliners made both obsolete as a mayor transportation conveyance by the end of the 1960's. 

    The roomettes in the 10 and 6 car were designed for one person. The roomette had just one bed, which pulled down from the wall.  The Viewliner roomettes have two beds.  One makes up from the seats and the other pulls down from the ceiling. 

    One can still experience a 10 and 6 car on the Indian Pacific and Ghan in Australia. I believe that they also run on the Canadian.

    On several occasions I have priced a roomette from Austin or Dallas to NYC. The total price was cheaper by taking the Capitol Limited to Washington and an NEC regional train to NYC as opposed to taking the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to NYC.  The reason, I suspect, is because the Capitol Limited has Superliner cars, which can accommodate more than 40 people.

    BTW, the current on-line edition of USA Today has a nice travel log re: The Coast Starlight. One veteran traveler likens the food on Amtrak to Denny's.  Being a frequent partaker of Denny's offerings, I cannot disagree with his observation. 

  • NittanyLion

    There are transatlantic liners.  Cunard still operates transatlantic sailings.  New York to Southampton, just like the old days, in seven days.  No tooling around at a few knots and laying off some port so you can get fleeced by locals for little wooden trinkets.  Real honest to goodness oceanic transportation.

    Not cheap though.  Costs about $2800 round trip in the most basic cabin.  

    Don't need to have government backed oceanliners.  Someone else already has it covered.

    In the six months, April-Sept. 2013, Cunard has 12 RT crossings.  These are not transportation, but luxury sea cruises, taking 7-18 days, prices ranging from $1230 (inside cabin) one way for a few voyages up to $14,900, plus fuel surcharge.

  • Quoting Sam1: "One can still experience a 10 and 6 car on the Indian Pacific and Ghan in Australia. I believe that they also run on the Canadian."

    Sam, VIA does not have any 10-6 sleepers. The only cars used on the Canadian are those built for the CP's Canadian. Except for extraordinary traffic only the Manor cars (3 sections, 4 roomettes, 5 bedrooms, and 1 compartment (which is sold at the same price as the bedrooms are, and both accommodations are listed as "cabins for two;  ask for beroom F, and a shower that takes the place of the 4th section) and the Park car, which has a drawing room and at least 2 bedrooms are used on this train. The Ocean has used both the Renaissance sleepers (nothing but bedrooms) and the Chateau sleepers (a mixture of sections, duplex roomettes, bedrooms, and 1 drawing room), and sometimes a Park car.

    Johnny

  • NittanyLion

    There are transatlantic liners.  Cunard still operates transatlantic sailings.  New York to Southampton, just like the old days, in seven days.  No tooling around at a few knots and laying off some port so you can get fleeced by locals for little wooden trinkets.  Real honest to goodness oceanic transportation.

    Not cheap though.  Costs about $2800 round trip in the most basic cabin.  

    Don't need to have government backed oceanliners.  Someone else already has it covered.

    Cool!  But, eight days to get to Southhampton from NY!  One sailing a month!  Uh, that's not much of a schedule.

    I'm talking weekly service, 3 day transit, like the good old days!  

    But, actually, two people in an inside cabin for 8 days, including food, for a total of $3000 isn't a bad price.  It would cost you $1200 for two plane tickets and 8 days of food for two people is probably worth $1600 or so.

    So....maybe Cunard knows a thing or two about operating "cruise ship transportation"?  Could Amtrak learn anything from them?  Has Amtrak looked or benchmarked?

    -Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • (Sorry, forgot the "quote" button. Deleted this post, trying again.)

  • n012944

    DwightBranch

     

    YoHo1975:

     

     

    Also, I'm curious, I realize this was a long time ago, but is that $500 a bereavement fare? When my dad Died, I got next morning ticket on United San Diego to O'hare for a steep discount due to it being a bereavement fare.

    It would be nice if Amtrak provided the same.

    Can't remember, but I'll bet they banned that now, too.

     

     

     

    I'll take that bet.

     

    http://www.delta.com/planning_reservations/special_travel_needs/bereavement/index.jsp

    http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/bereavement-airfares-cheap-emergency-flights-death-illness/story?id=9922168&page=2#.UAXxSWFR3FI

     

    "Of the "Big Five" airlines, only US Airways does not have bereavement or "compassion" fares"

     

    I followed your link to the ABC News article, and it describes the bereavement discounts as "all but meaningless", often only 5%. So, while bereavement fares do technically exist, they are dramatically more expensive than the fares most people are accustomed to paying (because, for example, 95% of a $1000 last-minute air fare is a lot more than a $300 fare for the same reservation made 2 weeks in advance.) It is plausible that a last-minute Amtrak fare would be much cheaper than an airline's bereavement fare.

    I'l leave it to the two disputants to settle the bet themselves...

  • schlimm

    I used the term "land cruise" as analogous to what almost all passenger ship traffic is and has been for years, a voyage where the ship's myriad of activities is the primary draw, not just transport to the destination(s).  There are few travel activities that do not rely in part on publicly funded facilities, even if some folks argue they are paid for by user fees.  That said, it seems to me that LD trains are: 1. not primarily used as a means of transportation, and 2., are far more heavily subsidized by most metrics than corridor trains. Therefore I just don't see how their continuance, particularly the sleepers, can be justified.

    I've ridden long distance trains enough in the past 5 years to get sufficient Amtrak Guest Rewards points for a free three-zone trip, but somehow I've missed out on the land cruise. Where on the Sunset Limited between Tucson and LA do I find the all-you-can-eat buffet with the ice sculptures? The nightclub? The plunge pool? The trivial pursuit contest operated by the cruise director's assistant? Dinner with the captain?

    On my last westbound trip I clambered into my coach seat in Tucson at 7:30pm (gratefully--it used to be 10:30pm) and thanked my lucky stars that the adjacent seat was occupied by a quiet young woman wearing headphones, and not the woman across the aisle who was explaining in a loud voice how unreasonable it was that the court told her she couldn't leave the state, and how she was going to do so anyway because they couldn't expect her not to look after Freddie because after all he's family...and on and on. Or the man in the do-rag, wife-beater undershirt, and tattoos who kept complaining (to the coach attendant, the conductor, and everyone else within earshot) that the car smelled like "***" (a word he evidently enjoyed using, because he repeated it over and over), and that was totally unacceptable, etc, etc. (I didn't smell much of anything, but the coach attendant headed downstairs with a mop.) Or the woman with the two-year-old who, despite her best efforts to control him, would periodically launch himself down the aisle, headed for the door at the end of the car which, unfortunately, was open more often than not thanks to the incessant traffic of passengers headed back and forth to the lounge car for snacks. He only made it through the door and into the next car a couple of times, fortunately. The train was half an hour early for its 5:30am arrival in LA; normally I would have resented the loss of sleep, but I had been awakened some time before by a loud cellphone conversation on the part of a woman who was being picked up at the Ontario stop by an evidently randy significant other. At the end of the conversation, she snapped closed the phone and announced to us all, " He's asking me if there's a quiet place near the station where we can park and 'do it'! Who does he think we are, a couple of teenagers?"

    Land cruise, eh. Do you have a clue what riding on an Amtrak long distance train is like?

  • ecoli

    schlimm

    I used the term "land cruise" as analogous to what almost all passenger ship traffic is and has been for years, a voyage where the ship's myriad of activities is the primary draw, not just transport to the destination(s).  There are few travel activities that do not rely in part on publicly funded facilities, even if some folks argue they are paid for by user fees.  That said, it seems to me that LD trains are: 1. not primarily used as a means of transportation, and 2., are far more heavily subsidized by most metrics than corridor trains. Therefore I just don't see how their continuance, particularly the sleepers, can be justified.

    I've ridden long distance trains enough in the past 5 years to get sufficient Amtrak Guest Rewards points for a free three-zone trip, but somehow I've missed out on the land cruise. Where on the Sunset Limited between Tucson and LA do I find the all-you-can-eat buffet with the ice sculptures? The nightclub? The plunge pool? The trivial pursuit contest operated by the cruise director's assistant? Dinner with the captain?

    On my last westbound trip I clambered into my coach seat in Tucson at 7:30pm (gratefully--it used to be 10:30pm) and thanked my lucky stars that the adjacent seat was occupied by a quiet young woman wearing headphones, and not the woman across the aisle who was explaining in a loud voice how unreasonable it was that the court told her she couldn't leave the state, and how she was going to do so anyway because they couldn't expect her not to look after Freddie because after all he's family...and on and on. Or the man in the do-rag, wife-beater undershirt, and tattoos who kept complaining (to the coach attendant, the conductor, and everyone else within earshot) that the car smelled like "***" (a word he evidently enjoyed using, because he repeated it over and over), and that was totally unacceptable, etc, etc. (I didn't smell much of anything, but the coach attendant headed downstairs with a mop.) Or the woman with the two-year-old who, despite her best efforts to control him, would periodically launch himself down the aisle, headed for the door at the end of the car which, unfortunately, was open more often than not thanks to the incessant traffic of passengers headed back and forth to the lounge car for snacks. He only made it through the door and into the next car a couple of times, fortunately. The train was half an hour early for its 5:30am arrival in LA; normally I would have resented the loss of sleep, but I had been awakened some time before by a loud cellphone conversation on the part of a woman who was being picked up at the Ontario stop by an evidently randy significant other. At the end of the conversation, she snapped closed the phone and announced to us all, " He's asking me if there's a quiet place near the station where we can park and 'do it'! Who does he think we are, a couple of teenagers?"

    Land cruise, eh. Do you have a clue what riding on an Amtrak long distance train is like? 

    This is the best write-up that I have seen on these forums in years. I have had similar experiences between Temple and Dallas, which is not nearly as long a haul as yours, but there is no way that I could express them as eloquently as you have. 

    I suspect that many of the participants in the forums who extoll the virtues of Amtrak's long distance trains don't ride coach.  In fact, I'll bet most of them don't use the long distance trains. 

  • I guess the land cruise on the Sunset is more like one of those Caribbean horror ship cruises you hear about where the food runs out, no A/C, broken toilets, etc.

  • ecoli

    Land cruise, eh. Do you have a clue what riding on an Amtrak long distance train is like?

    Sounds like Amtrak COULD learn a thing or two from Cunard (or others...)
    I have had similar experience on the Crescent....

    -Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • ecoli

    On my last westbound trip I clambered into my coach seat in Tucson at 7:30pm (gratefully--it used to be 10:30pm) and thanked my lucky stars that the adjacent seat was occupied by a quiet young woman wearing headphones, and not the woman across the aisle who was explaining in a loud voice how unreasonable it was that the court told her she couldn't leave the state, and how she was going to do so anyway because they couldn't expect her not to look after Freddie because after all he's family...and on and on. Or the man in the do-rag, wife-beater undershirt, and tattoos who kept complaining (to the coach attendant, the conductor, and everyone else within earshot) that the car smelled like "***" (a word he evidently enjoyed using, because he repeated it over and over), and that was totally unacceptable, etc, etc. (I didn't smell much of anything, but the coach attendant headed downstairs with a mop.) Or the woman with the two-year-old who, despite her best efforts to control him, would periodically launch himself down the aisle, headed for the door at the end of the car which, unfortunately, was open more often than not thanks to the incessant traffic of passengers headed back and forth to the lounge car for snacks. He only made it through the door and into the next car a couple of times, fortunately. The train was half an hour early for its 5:30am arrival in LA; normally I would have resented the loss of sleep, but I had been awakened some time before by a loud cellphone conversation on the part of a woman who was being picked up at the Ontario stop by an evidently randy significant other. At the end of the conversation, she snapped closed the phone and announced to us all, " He's asking me if there's a quiet place near the station where we can park and 'do it'! Who does he think we are, a couple of teenagers?"

    Land cruise, eh. Do you have a clue what riding on an Amtrak long distance train is like?

    The same ensemble cast travels by airline as well and occupies seats in the departure lounges and the two seats on either side of your middle seat.

    The difference is that the trip takes place a little bit quicker.  Not a lot of bit quicker owing to Security and changing planes at your Hub City, but a little bit quicker than the train.

    If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?